Archive for the ‘shih tsu’ Tag

Two for Tuesday: Pet Diversity   4 comments

Charl hiking in the Grand Staircase, Utah.

Charl hiking in the Grand Staircase, Utah.

Diversity is a term that is used a lot these days.  I like to think of it not as something we “should” strive for but something that is here and that we should enjoy and make the most of.  And that goes for every aspect of our lives, including our pets.

It’s been a while since the last Two for Tuesday post.  The theme is two photos that are connected in some way and together tell a simple story.  I like to pair images that have contrasts as well as similarities.  Variety is the spice in pets as well as life in general.  All my dogs (+ one cat) have been rescues from the street or shelter, or otherwise unwanted.

I used to have a mixed breed dog named Sugar who was dominantly samoyed (those big white fluffy white huskies with a smile).  She was a great hiker and loved the snow too.  While I had her, I ended up with my first small dog – a boy shih tsu named Charl.  While he was certainly comfortable being a lap dog, Sugar & I taught him how to hike and camp, in general to be a ‘real dog’.  I learned that most shih tsus are remarkably adaptable.

Charl taught me that a small dog was very much worth having as a pet.  He died a year and a half ago after a long, adventurous life.  After years of only having the “little boy”, I suppose I was ready for something different.  And the dog in the 2nd shot is most definitely that.  We found him wandering the streets and after advertising heavily and staying in contact with the shelter, realized he wasn’t simply lost.  He was apparently abandoned by his owner.  He’s a purebred pitbull we named Blue.

Unlike Charl, who knew only kindness, Blue is a little head-shy and has a few scars from being beaten.  But he doesn’t show it otherwise.  He’s still very young and still puppified, despite his size.  And he just loves people and other dogs.  Fortunately he wasn’t abused enough to affect his personality at all and promises to be a fine example of the reality that the breed’s reputation is wholly undeserved.  Unfortunately, in my current circumstances all I can do is foster him and find a good home.

Other than the fact that Blue is the same species as Charl was, there are other similarities plus a few differences.  Blue is a big baby, more so than Charl was actually.  He thinks he’s a lap dog, but it’s like having a large anvil in your lap, one who enthusiastically licks your face.  He’s a much bigger handful than Charl ever was.  Another big difference: Blue takes the job of guarding home and vehicle quite seriously, while Charl thought all visitors were welcome.  But the two are the same where it counts:  gentle and good-hearted.

Blue doesn’t leave my side and thinks I’m his owner now.  Who knows?  He may turn out to be right.

Blue strikes a pose.

Blue strikes a pose.

Posted September 14, 2016 by MJF Images in Animals

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A Very Special Shih Tsu   34 comments

Charl the shih tsu (pronounced shee tsoo) at his favorite place, the Oregon Coast.

Charl the shih tsu (pronounced shee tsoo) at his favorite place, the Oregon Coast.

I lost my friend yesterday.  He was named Charl.  I didn’t name him and, fittingly, it’s uncertain why his name is Charl and not Charles or Charlie.  He was a little shih tsu.  I have been blessed by having in the past 20 years two of the best dogs I could ever imagine.  First Sugar and then Charl.  Shih tsus are dogs originally bred in China for the households of royalty, where women with bound feet needed the warmth of their fur in wintertime.

Shih tsus have very unique and engaging personalities.  And this particular shih tsu had a truly unique personality even compared with others of his breed.  He was 16 years old and lived quite the full and exciting life.

Never let anybody tell you a small dog is not a “real” dog.  And never assume a small dog can’t go hiking and adventuring with you.  I had some of these preconceptions before I met Charl, and he shattered them all.  I inherited him from an ex when he was just one.  He was my companion for more than 15 years.

A little known fact about the old west that has been lost to history: shih tsu scouts!

A little known fact about the old west that has been lost to history: shih tsu scouts!

I swear he was part cat, especially with respect to having 9 lives.  There were many times when I thought he had been lost.  He had a habit of wandering from the trail and driving me crazy with worry looking for him.  One time he got lost while hiking high on Mt. Hood.  My uncle searched in one direction and I went the other.  When my uncle found him he was sleeping right at the edge of an enormous cliff.  Another time was in the snow and it had gotten dark.  I still don’t know how I managed to meet back up with him that time.

But until he got old he never shrank from a physical challenge.  I may have had to lift him up and over big rocks on climbs, but he would routinely do 15+ mile hikes with major elevation gains exceeding 3000 feet!  He was extremely healthy throughout his life, never sick and (almost) never a pain.   He could hold his pee for incredibly long periods if necessary.  And when he was too old to hike with me he’d wait patiently in my van for many hours.  He was a very mellow and relaxed little thing who almost never barked.

Charl in his later years was not as intrepid though he always played along.

Charl in his later years was not as intrepid though he always played along.

When on camping/photo safaris, as soon as I got up at dawn to photograph, Charl would move right into my sleeping bag.

When on camping/photo safaris, as soon as I got up at dawn to photograph, Charl would move right into my sleeping bag.

He almost became prey on a number of occasions.  On Hurricane Ridge in Washington it was only by very quick action on my part that he wasn’t taken by an eagle.  He even came face to face with a wild wolf, a lone alpha male in Yellowstone Park.  He was only 10 feet away, but again my presence saved him.  I snatched him up before the wolf could get any ideas about snagging a take-out lunch.

When he was a youngster he would disappear with his sister Abbi, most times at the beach.  Some time later I would get a call when someone found him.  Invariably they would’ve scored treats or even full meals.  He wore my phone number around his neck his whole life, and it was necessary in his case believe me.

This wolf is looking right at him but Charl had very little idea he was face to face with his wild origins.

This wolf is looking right at him but Charl had very little idea he was face to face with his wild origins.

On a trip to Yosemite National Park, Charl shows the local deer just how ineffectual he is as a hunter.

On a trip to Yosemite National Park, Charl shows the local deer just how ineffectual he is as a hunter.

All through these trials he maintained that extremely mellow disposition that everyone remarked upon.  When he was a puppy he was of course rambunctious.  But throughout his life he was a dog who could appreciate laziness in all its forms.  He slept many hours on my lap as I drove.  I thought of him as a lap dog who had adapted very well to an active life.  In fact, shih tsus are the most adaptable of all the lap dogs.

Charl was always happy to lounge on people and keep them warm, even little people.

Charl was always happy to lounge on people and keep them warm, even little people.

The great thing about lap dogs is you can take them anywhere.

The great thing about lap dogs is you can take them anywhere.

He learned how to hike by following my previous dog, Sugar.  There were some years of overlap when I had two dogs.  Sugar also taught him how to love streams.  He was afraid of them at first but after watching her cool down many times by plopping her belly down in cold creek water he got the idea and started following suit.

 

Charl goes canyoning in southern Utah.

Charl goes canyoning in southern Utah.

The only hassle was his fur.  It was the kind that doesn’t shed.  That made it strange.  It would pick up half of the forest floor as if it were velcro.  Powder snow would quickly ball up until he couldn’t walk for all the packed snowballs on his under-carriage.  He needed frequent combing and bathing.  Especially when his hair was long.  I always thought he looked more like a natural dog when his hair was long.

Charl is struggling in the snow because his fur picks up snowballs.  La Sal Mtns, Utah.

Charl is struggling in the snow because his fur picks up snowballs. La Sal Mtns, Utah.

So he got a free ride in my pack, the only time he skied!

So he got a free ride in my pack, the only time he skied!

His favorite place in all the world was the Oregon Coast.  He loved to run up and down the beach chasing the surf as it receded, chasing shore birds, having a ball.  He would run until he was a speck in the distance, and I would have to run after him.  He used to be so fast, like a flying dust mop!

Charl rests after some fun on the Oregon Coast.

Charl rests after some fun on the Oregon Coast.

The sand was good for playing in, but the warm rock is much better for napping on.

The sand was good for playing, but the warm rock is much better for napping.

Even the last time we were there, with him an old codger, he started to run for a bit before tiring quickly.  Because of his love for the beach I will be going with my uncle to the coast soon to scatter his ashes.  My uncle, Charl and I hiked many times together.

Charl as an old dog.  Though he eventually went blind, he aged gracefully.

Charl as an old dog. Though he eventually went blind, he aged gracefully.

I suppose I shouldn’t be sad that Charl is gone.  He lived a full life after all.  But I am sad, very sad.  I know that I will never meet a dog like Charl.  Rest in Peace buddy, you’ll be missed.

 

Charl: 1998 - 2014, Rest in Peace.

Charl: 1998 – 2014, Rest in Peace.

Single-Image Sunday: The Golden Years   8 comments

Thinking about the old days: my dog Charl

Thinking about the good old days: my dog Charl

My little buddy Charl the shih tsu, who I’ve known since he was a pup, is now in his golden years.  He is 15 and has been slowing way down lately.  He is pretty much blind now but shows no worrisome signs of ill health.  He’s been a remarkably healthy dog.

Although this photo is from last year, I chose it because he seems to be thinking back on the good times we’ve shared together.  He used to be one heck of a hiker, believe it or not.  With the most unique personality of any dog I’ve encountered, he’s been a constant source of amusement through the years.  I’m going to miss him when he goes.

My Little Companero   4 comments

Charl the Shih tsu at his favorite place in the world: the Oregon Coast!

Charl the Shih tsu at his favorite place in the world: the Oregon Coast!

I don’t think I have made my little buddy the subject of a post yet.  I don’t even include him in many pictures, though he is never far from where I am.  Unless I am going international, flying somewhere, he goes with me.  He’s my road-trip partner.

A shih tsu takes on a concerned expression, worried no doubt that more treats aren't in the cards.

A shih tsu takes on a concerned expression, worried no doubt that more treats aren’t in the cards.

And what a partner!  He never complains or whines, even about my driving.  He always seems happy to go wherever I want to go, and never makes me feel guilty about buying snacks and spilling crumbs when I munch while driving.  In fact, he LOVES when we get snacks.

A little known fact about the old west that has been lost to history: shih tsu scouts!

A little known fact about the old west that has been lost to history: shih tsu scouts!

He’s my little dog, named Charl, who I’ve had since he was a puppy.  It wasn’t my idea to get a shih tsu.  He belonged to my girlfriend at the time, and he latched on to me when I took him along on a trip to the Canadian Rockies with my other dog (a samoyed mix).   He learned how to lift his leg when he pees on that trip.

Charl usually takes over my sleeping bag when I go out for those cold dawn photo shoots.

Charl usually takes over my sleeping bag when I go out for those cold dawn photo shoots.

I didn’t even know what a shih tsu was.  To me, it was just one more poor excuse for a dog: a yapper, an ankle biter.  I’ve always had big dogs, dogs that could go skiing & hiking with me.  You know, real dogs.  But when the girlfriend and I split he came with me.

Charl checks out a slot canyon in Utah.

Charl checks out a slot canyon in Utah.

Now I’m a big shih tsu fan.  They are without doubt the best small dog in my opinion.  Perhaps it is his personality, which is uniquely mellow and quiet.  When he was young he barked some and ran around the house like an idiot with his sister.

Charl is struggling in the snow because his fur picks up snowballs.  La Sal Mtns, Utah.

Charl is struggling in the snow because his fur picks up snowballs. La Sal Mtns, Utah.

 

This is the ticket

Okay this is much better. Snow is too hard!

But in general shih tsus do not bark as much as other small dogs.  All they really want is to cuddle, so never be scared of a getting bitten by this dog.  I really feel it is ideal to have two dogs; an inside lap dog and an outside bigger dog.

Motorcycles are Scary.  What a trooper!

Motorcycles are Scary. What a trooper!

When Charl was young, he went on many hikes with me and my uncle.  He even climbed a few mountains.  He could do 15 mile, 3000-foot vertical hikes.  And that’s impressive considering how short his legs are.  He’s always loved snow but it clings to his fur and forms giant snowballs so he has trouble walking.  Also, he’s always loved the beach.

Charl the shih tsu, in the meadows along the Merced River in Yosemite N.P., stalks the completely unworried deer.

Charl the shih tsu, in the meadows along the Merced River in Yosemite N.P., stalks the completely unworried deer.

On on this last trip I even got him to run down the beach.  He rarely runs now.  He’s old (14) and sleeps most of the time.  He gets irritated when puppies try to play with him.  In other words, he’s retired.  I’ll be a sad man when my little buddy dies.  He’s enriched the lives of everyone he’s met.

Charl looking handsome after a haircut.

Charl looking handsome after a haircut.

 

 

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